This Week in College Football History: Dec. 19 – Dec. 25
As part of an ongoing series throughout the fall, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame posts This Week in College Football History, which takes a look back at some of college football’s landmark moments over the last 143 years
December 19, 2001 – No. 25 Marshall and East Carolina staged perhaps the wildest bowl game in college football history in the GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Ala. East Carolina jumped to a 38-8 halftime lead by turning four Marshall turnovers into touchdowns. The tables turned in the third quarter, however, as the Thundering Herd took advantage of three Pirates turnovers to pull within 41-36 after three quarters. After a 32-yard Kevin Miller field goal for East Carolina, Marshall quarterback Byron Leftwich hit Denero Marriott on a 30-yard strike to make the score 44-42. Pirates tailback Leonard Henry (29 carries for 195 yards) notched his second score of the day from 55 yards out to put East Carolina up 51-40 with five minutes to play, but again Marshall rallied. A 27-yard Curtis Head field goal made the score 51-45, and when Leftwich hit Darius Watts with a seven-yard score with seven seconds to play the comeback appeared complete, but Head’s extra point sailed wide right and the game headed to overtime. The squads traded touchdowns in the first frame, but East Carolina could only muster a field goal in the second session. An eight-yard pass from Leftwich to Josh Davis sealed the 64-61, double-overtime victory for Marshall in the highest-scoring bowl game in college football history. The teams combined to tie or set seven NCAA bowl game records including most points (125), most touchdowns (16) and most first downs (36), while Miller set the record for most points by a kicker with 17. Leftwich’s 576 passing yards tied an all-time bowl game record. CLICK HERE TO SEE VIDEO OF THIS GAME.
OTHER NOTABLE DATES:
December 20, 2009 – Middle Tennessee quarterback Dwight Dasher set a bowl-game record for rushing yards by a quarterback when he dashed for 201 yards in a 42-32 win over Southern Miss in the New Orleans Bowl. Dasher completed 15-of-25 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns while adding two touchdowns on the ground. Southern Miss built a 14-0 lead after one quarter, but Middle Tennessee notched 14 points in each of the following three quarters to secure the program’s first bowl victory at the FBS level.
December 21, 1979 – Indiana earned the first bowl victory in school history by stunning College Football Hall of Fame coach LaVell Edwards and No. 9 BYU 38-37 in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego. In a game that featured eight lead changes, the Hoosiers notched the game-winner when Tom Wilbur returned a punt 62 yards for a touchdown with 6:53 remaining in the game. The Cougars drove to try for one last lead change, but a 27-yard field goal by Brent Johnson with 11 seconds remaining was no good. Wilbur was named the Hoosiers’ Most Valuable Player, while BYU quarterback Marc Wilson also earned MVP accolades by completing 28-of-43 passes for 380 yards with three total touchdowns. Wilson was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1996.
December 22, 1984 – Army won the first bowl game in program history with a 10-6 triumph over Michigan State in the inaugural Cherry Bowl in Pontiac, Mich. Army quarterback Nate Sassaman was named Most Valuable Player by rushing 28 times for 136 yards. The Army defense forced five turnovers on the day and held the Spartans to 89 rushing yards. The Cherry Bowl, held at the Pontiac Silverdome, staged its second and final game the following year.
December 23, 1986 – Boston College defeated College Football Hall of Fame coach Vince Dooley and No. 17 Georgia 27-24 in the inaugural Hall of Fame Bowl in Tampa, Fla. After trailing 20-7 at the half, the Bulldogs notched 17 unanswered points to hold a 24-20 lead with 2:38 remaining in the game. The Eagles responded by mounting a 76-yard drive capped by a five-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Shawn Halloran to wide receiver Kelvin Martin with 32 seconds showing on the clock. The Hall of Fame Bowl moved to New Year’s Day in 1990, and became known as the Outback Bowl in 1996.
December 24, 2006 – Quarterback Colt Brennan and wide receiver Jason Rivers set single-game school records in leading Hawaii to a 41-24 Hawaii Bowl victory over Arizona State in Honolulu. Brennan completed 33-of-42 passes for 559 yards, while adding 15 rushing yards, which broke school records for single-game passing yards and total offense. Rivers grabbed 14 passes for a school and NCAA bowl-game record 308 yards with two touchdowns. Arizona State led the game 10-3 at halftime, but Brennan ignited in the second half with five touchdown passes, which allowed the signal caller to set NCAA single-season records for passing efficiency, touchdown passes, touchdowns responsible for, average yards gained per play and 300-yard passing games.
December 25, 1987 – In a matchup of future College Football Hall of Famers, quarterback Troy Aikman led No. 10 UCLA to a 20-16 victory over tailback Emmitt Smith and Florida in the Aloha Bowl in Honolulu. Aikman broke a 10-10 tie in the third quarter with a five-yard touchdown pass to Danny Thompson in what ultimately became the game-winning score. Aikman earned Most Valuable Player honors for the Bruins by connecting on 19-of-30 passes for 173 yards and a score while Smith was named the Gators’ MVP with 128 rushing yards on 17 carries.
This report was researched and written by NFF Communications Assistant Zach Barnett. Click here to read this story online.
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